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  • Writer's pictureEduardo Picasso

Osteopathy and the vagus nerve (Part 3)



The vagus nerve is the longest and most complex nerve in the body. It connects the brain to many important organs throughout the body (pharynx, esophagus, larynx, trachea, bronchi, heart, stomach, pancreas, and liver, and other viscera, such as the kidneys and intestines). There are many ways to stimulate the vagus nerve to keep vagal tone high and healthy (singing, meditation, Yoga, Osteopathy, Acupuncture, Massage, Reflexology, socializing, etc.). Let's describe some of its functions: - Controls inflammation levels: The nerves send information through electrical signals, and when they reach the end of the nerve they emit a chemical signal called a neurotransmitter (messenger molecules). The main neurotransmitter used by the vagus nerve is acetylcholine, which has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. - Swallowing: It allows eating without choking; When we eat, the swallowing process is done automatically and, in turn, the breathing reflex stops so as not to choke and avoid the risk of passing food into the respiratory tract (the vagus nerve controls 5 muscles of the pharynx). - Satiety: The vagus nerve tells us that it is necessary to stop eating; vagal neurons inform the brain of the amount of fat that has entered our liver. - Speech, breathing and relaxation: It innervates the muscles involved in speech. In the lungs, the activation of the vagus nerve slows down the respiratory rate and makes it deeper, generating a generalized relaxation effect (this is why we can activate it through deep and slow breaths).

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